1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
Red Green was famous for his little speech at the end of every show where he would give some (often humorous) advice to men and then say "Keep your stick on the ice, we're all in this together."
Any time you join a group or a team or pursue a goal others have gone before you. They have been where you are and have been where you are headed. As Paul opens this next letter to the Corinthians he wants them to know that they are not alone in their suffering. They are not facing anything new even though it may be new to them.
Paul has faced it continually and Jesus even more. When writing a personal letter to Timothy as a young preached just starting out he said "All those who desire to live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
To suffer as a Christian is not a maybe. It's a definite. You have taken sides with the Enemy of the one who fancies himself the ruler of this world. He (Satan) will come at you from every angle available to him including your own self. Paul doesn't gloss this over as some "Christian" teachers do today. Instead he embraces it and then points out the end result. Jesus "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising it's shame and is sat down at the right hand of the Father." There was nothing exciting or enjoyable about the cross. The joy for Jesus was the results. He was looking beyond the suffering to the consolation. This journey is hard but the destination is out of this world! Pun fully intended.
In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul wrote that as Christians we don't need to grieve like others who have no hope when our loved ones die. Then he talked about the return of Jesus and the resurrection and meeting Him in the air and when he was done looking forward to the great hope we have he said "Therefore comfort one another with these words."
When Jesus was facing the cross God sent Moses and Elijah to talk to Him and comfort Him. Both of them had suffered much and had known great defeat in this life but they made it through. They came to remind Him that on the other side of the dark valley He was about to enter their was a destination of joy unspeakable and full of glory. He was going Home. And not only that, He was making a way for all His children to come Home with Him.
Are you suffering for Christ? As sure as the suffering came, so will the joy. The journey ends at Home. :)